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Retro: An Amos Walker Novel [Hardcover]

Loren D. Estleman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 14 2004 Amos Walker Mysteries (Book 17)
Loren Estleman is the quintessential noir detective writer, and Amos Walker is his quintessential noir detective. Walker has made a lot of friends--and a few enemies--in his years as a detective in Detroit, but he has never had to deal with quite the trouble he finds when he agrees to grant the death-bed wish of Beryl Garnet. Beryl was a madam, but she had a son a long while ago, and asks Walker to make sure that her son gets her ashes when she's gone.

He finds her son, who has been in Canada since the 1960s, evading the law since he was a Vietnam War protester. A simple favor, melancholy, but benign. Except that before he can get settled back in Detroit Garnet's son is dead, with him as the prime suspect.

He has little choice but to find out who might have done the deed and tried to pin the blame on him. . . and in the process he discovers another murder, of a boxer from the 1940s, Curtis Smallwood, who happens to have been the man's father. If that wasn't bad enough, his task is made much more complicated by the fact that the two murders, fifty-three years apart, were committed with the very same gun. And in a place where it was impossible for a gun to be.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Reading a new Amos Walker adventure is like settling down and listening to an old, reliably entertaining friend. In this 17th book in the series (after 2003's Poison Blonde), Beryl Garnet, a dying madam, summons the Detroit detective to find her long-missing son, Delwayne, to whom she wishes to leave her ashes. Since Delwayne fled to Canada during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Amos gets a Canadian counterpart to trace him. Soon after Amos meets the son, he winds up dead, and Amos becomes the main suspect in his shooting death. Amos later discovers that Delwayne's dad, a talented black boxer, was murdered in the 1940s—and a single gun killed both father and son. A sucker for damsels in distress, Amos encounters more than one as he digs down into the muck for the real murderer. Estleman keeps Walker determinedly low-tech: he goes to the library, pores over records and does his own legwork. He riffs on the city and gently ribs Canadian culture across the river. Why does Amos drive to Toronto? It's a chance for him to smuggle back a box of alleged Cuban cigars, a longstanding Motor City tradition. In the process of setting things right, Amos has to let go of some old and new attachments, leaving the reader eager for more.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When time ran out on legendary Detroit madam Beryl Garnet, PI Amos Walker, a longtime acquaintance of Garnet, was asked to deliver her ashes to her son. The only problem was that the son, Delwayne, a Vietnam protestor implicated in a botched bomb plot, had been underground for 30 years. Walker finds Delwayne easily enough, but moments after meeting with him, he is murdered, and Walker becomes the prime suspect. Walker investigates to clear himself and learns the gun that killed Delwayne was the same gun used to kill his biological father in a celebrated but unsolved Motor City case 50 years earlier. The Walker novels are set in the present but are themselves thoroughly retro in style: a black-and-white Detroit, drifting plumes of smoke, whiskey bottles in desk drawers. The dialogue is unadulterated Bogie, and the first-person narration is as cynically world weary as it can be. It feels at times like Walker is living in an alternate twenty-first-century world, but for fans of old-school tough guys, it's a much better world. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars AN AUTHENTIC, ARTICULATE READING June 20 2004
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
How appropriate to have a thriller based in Detroit read by a Detroiter! Veteran voice performer Mel Foster can summon many voices yet in this reading he returns to his roots. He sounds just like a Michigander, and a tough one at that.
Estleman's creation, Detroit detective Amos Walker, can handle almost any situation. He's seen a lot in that city pierced by Belle Isle and rimmed by the upscale Grosse Pointes. Yet, he's not at all prepared for what's in store for him following the death of Beryl Garnet.
Beryl was really something before she went to the great beyond. She was a madam who would make the contemporary Heidis seem inept. She enjoyed a lengthy tenure in the Motor City and made a small fortune.
However, the lady has one last wish: she wants Walker to deliver her ashes to the son she hasn't seen in a number of years. Her plea is that she wants her son to know that he's always been in her heart.
Well, Walker does have a soft side, so he goes in search of Beryl's offspring. The young man is soon located in Canada; he's a draft dodger. He need dodge no longer because shortly after Walker finds him Beryl's son joins his mom in the heavenly kingdom.
Of course, Walker is a prime suspect in this murder. Obviously, Walker has to find the real killer in order to clear himself. For this smart Detroit detective that doesn't sound like much of a challenge - until he discovers one more killing. This time the victim is the father of Beryl's son. Now, mother, father, and son are perhaps traipsing about the clouds. But, it's not at all heavenly for Walker here on Earth.
- Gail Cooke
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Estleman is the finest of storytellers June 12 2004
Format:Hardcover
I've become a fan of Loren Estleman. Whether he's writing of the Old West or contmporary Detroit, the man is simply an extraordinary storyteller.
Amos Walker, former homicide detective and now struggling private investigator is asked to locate the long-ago runaway son of a local madam, so he can deliver her ashes to him.
What begins as an oddball assignment turns into something far more when the son is murdered in his hotel room near the Detroit airport. Walker becomes a prime suspect.
From that point on, Walker walks through past and present on a quest to find the real murderer - and solve a murder from decades past.
There's a marvelous grittiness to Estleman's writing. His characters feel real, the plot twists and turns with not a few sub-plots to keep you guessing. And the ending leaves you wanting more Estleman. He's that good.
Jerry
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars The Amos Walker series remains one of the best. May 24 2004
Format:Hardcover
There was a time when I was a steady mystery reader. Those days are long gone-I sort of burned out on the genre-but I still take in the occasional mystery. Mostly Spenser novels, but I'll throw in another author every now and then.
However, back when I was a mystery junkie, Amos Walker was one of my favorite reads. Loren D. Estleman is a first rate writer in the noir tradition. He's equally adept at both plot development as well as characterization. Although Estleman has a few different characters he deals with, Amos Walker is his masterpiece. Walker is a gritty, hardboiled former Viet Nam vet now working the detective trade in Detroit.
Estleman paints the fringes of Detroit with a master painters brush and Walker is right at home in that gritty urban landscape.
In retro Walker is present at the bedside of an old acquaintance, a madam and self described "former mob moll", who asks Amos, as a dying wish, to see to it that her cremains get back to her long lost son. Walker agrees and has no problem tracking down the son-he's a former draft deserter still living in Canada. He presents him with his mother's cremains and departs, only to learn shortly thereafter that the son has been shot dead and Walker is considered a suspect. Walker determines he has to straighten things out, if only to clear himself, and thus he enters the web of deception and murder.
As with all Walker books, there is lots of action. The characters are well written and very memorable. Walker's hard charging, straight ahead, no nonsense approach is in full display. The plot is fascinating, as usual. This is another grand page turner in a long line of grand page turner's.
In fact, I so enjoyed this one that I'm going to have to go back and revisit Walker for a while. I'm sure there have been several entries in the series since my burn out a while back. I may have burned out-I'm glad Estleman didn't!
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Estleman is the finest of storytellers June 12 2004
By Jerry Saperstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've become a fan of Loren Estleman. Whether he's writing of the Old West or contmporary Detroit, the man is simply an extraordinary storyteller.
Amos Walker, former homicide detective and now struggling private investigator is asked to locate the long-ago runaway son of a local madam, so he can deliver her ashes to him.
What begins as an oddball assignment turns into something far more when the son is murdered in his hotel room near the Detroit airport. Walker becomes a prime suspect.
From that point on, Walker walks through past and present on a quest to find the real murderer - and solve a murder from decades past.
There's a marvelous grittiness to Estleman's writing. His characters feel real, the plot twists and turns with not a few sub-plots to keep you guessing. And the ending leaves you wanting more Estleman. He's that good.
Jerry
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very strong hard-boiled mystery Aug. 3 2004
By booksforabuck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A simple assignment--delivering a dead madam's ashes to her adoptive son--turns out complicated and dangerous as private investigator Amos Walker investigates. The son, a Viet Nam era fugitive, is surprisingly easy to track down, especially when Walker calls on a retired FBI former client. But, ashes delivered, the son has an idea that he'd like to hire Amos to track down his father's killer--a murder that happened decades earlier, in an era when black fighters were definitely not supposed to date white entertainers.

When Walker's new client is killed in an airport hotel--a hotel behind all of the screening devices of modern anti-terrorism, Amos knows that the past has re-emerged. Especially since Walker was set up as a suspect.

Walker mixes with a tough county police Captain, his retired FBI buddy, a couple of gangsters in town for what looks like a setup, the gangster's beautiful girlfriend who looks to Walker for help escaping, and the aging witnesses to the long-ago shooting. Whether in style, gangsters, or murder, everything old is new again--and Walker has to move quickly to stay alive himself.

Author Loren D. Estleman delivers an exciting hard-boiled mystery. Walker, with his stuborn commitment to finding the truth no matter who gets in his way, is a classic retro figure himself. Interesting dialogue, fascinating introspection, Walker's cynical but true observations on life, and high suspense and danger, along with Estleman's compelling writing, make RETRO a fast-paced and hard-to-put-down novel. If you like hard-boiled private detective thrillers, RETRO is definitely one you should check out.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Amos Walker series remains one of the best. May 24 2004
By David J. Gannon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There was a time when I was a steady mystery reader. Those days are long gone-I sort of burned out on the genre-but I still take in the occasional mystery. Mostly Spenser novels, but I'll throw in another author every now and then.
However, back when I was a mystery junkie, Amos Walker was one of my favorite reads. Loren D. Estleman is a first rate writer in the noir tradition. He's equally adept at both plot development as well as characterization. Although Estleman has a few different characters he deals with, Amos Walker is his masterpiece. Walker is a gritty, hardboiled former Viet Nam vet now working the detective trade in Detroit.
Estleman paints the fringes of Detroit with a master painters brush and Walker is right at home in that gritty urban landscape.
In retro Walker is present at the bedside of an old acquaintance, a madam and self described "former mob moll", who asks Amos, as a dying wish, to see to it that her cremains get back to her long lost son. Walker agrees and has no problem tracking down the son-he's a former draft deserter still living in Canada. He presents him with his mother's cremains and departs, only to learn shortly thereafter that the son has been shot dead and Walker is considered a suspect. Walker determines he has to straighten things out, if only to clear himself, and thus he enters the web of deception and murder.
As with all Walker books, there is lots of action. The characters are well written and very memorable. Walker's hard charging, straight ahead, no nonsense approach is in full display. The plot is fascinating, as usual. This is another grand page turner in a long line of grand page turner's.
In fact, I so enjoyed this one that I'm going to have to go back and revisit Walker for a while. I'm sure there have been several entries in the series since my burn out a while back. I may have burned out-I'm glad Estleman didn't!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN AUTHENTIC, ARTICULATE READING June 20 2004
By Gail Cooke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio Cassette
How appropriate to have a thriller based in Detroit read by a Detroiter! Veteran voice performer Mel Foster can summon many voices yet in this reading he returns to his roots. He sounds just like a Michigander, and a tough one at that.
Estleman's creation, Detroit detective Amos Walker, can handle almost any situation. He's seen a lot in that city pierced by Belle Isle and rimmed by the upscale Grosse Pointes. Yet, he's not at all prepared for what's in store for him following the death of Beryl Garnet.
Beryl was really something before she went to the great beyond. She was a madam who would make the contemporary Heidis seem inept. She enjoyed a lengthy tenure in the Motor City and made a small fortune.
However, the lady has one last wish: she wants Walker to deliver her ashes to the son she hasn't seen in a number of years. Her plea is that she wants her son to know that he's always been in her heart.
Well, Walker does have a soft side, so he goes in search of Beryl's offspring. The young man is soon located in Canada; he's a draft dodger. He need dodge no longer because shortly after Walker finds him Beryl's son joins his mom in the heavenly kingdom.
Of course, Walker is a prime suspect in this murder. Obviously, Walker has to find the real killer in order to clear himself. For this smart Detroit detective that doesn't sound like much of a challenge - until he discovers one more killing. This time the victim is the father of Beryl's son. Now, mother, father, and son are perhaps traipsing about the clouds. But, it's not at all heavenly for Walker here on Earth.
- Gail Cooke
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not fair, not fair at all March 1 2009
By Paul Hartman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am annoyed as all get out. This kind of stuff has got to stop. Amos Walker gets a rather routine assignment, finding a lost son for delivery of his mother's ashes. Soon we hear about the murder of a boxer many years earlier, and somehow it ties into yet a new murder today.

What annoys me are the coincidences that occur in the plot. I don't want to mention them, that gives it all away. But just what are the chances that something could work out the way this mystery does? One in a hundred million maybe?

The author is not playing fair here. He sets up something that could only work if somehow the universe was run by a clown who rules with coincidences that are just too great to swallow. If you want a story that actually could happen, if want a story in which the author is not just pulling things together to keep the suspense going, if you want a mystery that actually could be solved without guidance from heaven; this story is not for you. Or me either, for that matter.
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